Gov. Tom Wolf declared real estate a nonessential business at the start of the pandemic, making it a challenge for agents to stay productive. Now that restrictions may start to lift, agents are eager to get back to work.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf took a somewhat unique approach to battling the coronavirus pandemic in his state. He initially issuing county-by-county restrictions after the state announced its first two presumptive cases of COVID-19 on March 6 before enacting a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1.

On April 29, Gov. Wolf announced that the state would take a similar approach to reopening, through a color-coded phased plan beginning in the northwestern and central parts of the state. Areas that have had a downward trajectory of cases over a two-week period and an adequate number of hospital beds available will be able to enter the “yellow phase” and begin limited reopening on May 8, still maintaining closed gyms, theaters, schools and bars, and limiting restaurant service to take-out.

If there is no spike in cases at this point, a region may enter the “green phase,” at which point most restrictions would be waived, although individuals should still expect to follow guidance from federal and state officials regarding wearing face masks in public, following social distancing protocols and more.

Now one full month into statewide stay-at-home orders, here’s the current state-of-affairs for Pennsylvania real estate.

Statewide cases and deaths

  • As of June 22nd, Pennsylvania had 86,024 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  •  6,472 fatalities were reported as of June 22nd.
  • A total of 637,727 COVID-19 tests have been administered as of June 22nd.

Statewide crisis response

  • On March 6, following the announcement of Pennsylvania’s first two presumptive cases of COVID-19, Gov. Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration to provide increased support to state agencies in response to the coronavirus.
  • On March 11, Gov. Wolf announced that the state’s Medicaid program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would cover recipients’ COVID-19 testing and treatment costs. He also announced that there would be no out of state or international travel for commonwealth business, and prohibited in-person large gatherings, unless approved by the governor’s office. The following day, the governor implemented restrictions in Montgomery County, instituting no-visitor policies in correctional facilities and nursing homes, and discouraged recreational activities statewide in crowded public spaces like movie theaters, gyms and malls.
  • On March 13, Gov. Wolf announced that all K-12 Pennsylvania schools would be closed for 10 days starting on March 16.
  • On March 16, Gov. Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties to stop all dine-in service. The following day, restrictions were extended throughout the entire state. On March 19, all “non-life-sustaining businesses” throughout the state were ordered to close. Businesses not initially included in the “life-sustaining” category were able to petition for “life-sustaining” status so that they could resume business.
  • On March 23, the governor’s office started issuing stay-at-home orders to several counties, a move that continued in various counties for the next few days until the statewide stay-at-home order on April 1. School closures were also extended until April 6, and by March 30, school closures were extended indefinitely.
  • Gov. Wolf joined a multi-state council of governors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts on April 13 to work toward restoring their states’ economies. On April 27, Gov. Wolf announced the statewide reopening of limited outdoor recreational activities, effective May 1.

Statewide real estate

  • The median home value in Pennsylvania is currently $198,377 according to data from Zillow. That number has increased by about 4.0 percent year-over-year, but Zillow anticipates it will fall by about 1.7 percent over the course of the next year.
  • The median listing price of homes in Pennsylvania currently on the market, according to Zillow, is $210,000 while the median sales price is $180,000.
  • Pennsylvania listings spent an average of 99 days on Zillow.
  • Real estate was deemed a non-essential business by Gov. Wolf, and restrictions put in place on March 19 prohibited in-home showings and inspections. After appeals from Realtors across the state to their representatives, on April 28, the Pennsylvania House passed House Bill 2412, which would allow real estate services to be conducted uniformly across the state. The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Philadelphia City Hall | Leo SERRAT / Unsplash

Philadelphia (Philadelphia County)

Confirmed cases as of June 29th: 25,693

Deaths as of June 29th: 1,592

Home of the Liberty Bell and Rocky, Philadelphia is located in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania on the border of New Jersey. In 2018, the city’s population was estimated at 1,584,138 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

During the month of March, there were 1,190 total units sold in Philadelphia County, a drop of about 5 percent year-over-year, according to data from Long and Foster.

There were 3,366 units in active inventory, a decline by 25 percent from March 2019. New listings were down 20 percent year-over-year with a total of 1,937 new listings. The median sales price was $245,000, up by 18 percent from the previous year.

Units spent an average of 56 days on market, an increase of 8 percent from March 2019. Philadelphia had a 2.8 months supply of inventory throughout March 2020, down from 3.6 months the year before.

Downtown Pittsburgh | Yuhan Du / Unsplash

Pittsburgh (Allegheny County)

Confirmed cases as of June 29th: 2,568

Deaths as of June 29th: 186

Pittsburgh is located in the southwestern quadrant of the state. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated its population at 182,100 as of 2018. The site of a thriving steel industry at the beginning of the twentieth century, Pittsburgh is known for being the home to Gilded Age empires created by J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie.

The median home value in Pittsburgh is $179,972, according to Zillow. Home values have increased by about 5.5 percent over the past year, but Zillow anticipates they will fall by about 1.1 percent within the next year.

The median price of all listed homes is $224,900, according to Zillow. However, the median sale price is $182,100.

Homes listed in Pittsburgh spend an average of 97 days on Zillow.

State Capitol Building | Olivia Connell / Unsplash

Harrisburg (Dauphin County)

Confirmed cases as of June 29th: 1,942

Deaths as of June 29th: 132

Harrisburg, the state capital, is located in central southeast Pennsylvania, near Hershey, home of America’s famed chocolate factory. The city’s population was last estimated at 49,229, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2018.

During March 2020, 551 total units were sold, down slightly from 558 units sold in March 2019, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors.

The median average price of all properties was $180,000 during March, an uptick of $5,000 from $175,000 in March 2019. That number reflected no change from the previous month when the median home price was also $180,000.

Properties spent an average of 50 days on market in March 2020 reflecting a decrease year-over-year from 64 days in March 2019, and only a slight drop from 56 days in February 2020.

Downtown Scranton | Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

Scranton (Lackawanna County)

Confirmed cases as of June 29th: 1,684

Deaths as of June 29th: 202

Scranton is located in the northeast part of the state, and has industrial roots in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a hub for coal mining and railroads. Scranton’s population in 2018 was estimated at 77,182 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The median home value in Scranton is currently $90,124, according to data from Zillow, which is up 1.8 percent year-over-year. Over the course of the next year, Zillow anticipates median home values will decrease by 2.7 percent.

Homes in Scranton spend an average of 120 days on Zillow. The median price of homes currently listed in Scranton on Zillow is $98,250, while the median rent price is $1,000 per month.

Additional resources

  • The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors has a COVID-19 resources page on its website with extensive lists of FAQs and latest updates applicable to Realtors.
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s website also has an extensive resources page with information for individuals and businesses.
  • The Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations has a resources page on its website regularly updated with information about legislation, working remotely, managing stress and more.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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